Institutional Accreditation of
AVINASHILINGAM INSTITUTE FOR HOMESCIENCE &
HIGHER EDUCATION FOR WOMEN
Section I : Preamble
The growth of the institute, from an affiliated College in 1957 to an autonomous institution in 1978, and to a Deemed University in the year 1988, is impressive. It has now developed as a pioneering institution in Home Science and Higher Education under the dynamic leadership of Dr.Rajammal P.Devadas the first Principal, the first Director and first Vice-Chancellor and later, the second Chancellor of the University. An educational architect of far-reaching vision, Dr.T.S. Avinashilingam, founded this innovative consortium of educational institutions. He was its first Chancellor. Under autonomy the college has made innovations. Whereby the education offered here became more relevant to the needs of the students and the community. Such reform gathered further momentum when the college became a Deemed university. The university continues to operate in an atmosphere of cordiality. Commitment and dedication are evident in academic work. Dr.Santa Rajagopalís dynamic leadership deserves mention. The Deemed University status was conferred on the institution by the UGC, in 1988.
The University volunteered to be assessed by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council, Bangalore and submitted the self-study report in March 1999. NAAC constituted a peer team to visit the university and validate the self-study report. The team members comprised Dr. (Mrs) Mariamma A. Varghese, Vice-Chancellor, SNDT Women's University as Chairperson; Dr.Ratna Naidu, Vice-Chancellor of Padmavathi Mahila Viswavidyalya, Tirupathi, Dr. Devaraj Urs, Professor of Development Studies, Mysore University; and Mrs.Pankaja, Regional Director of NCTE, Bangalore as members. The Peer team visited the University between the 15th and the 17th of April 1999. Mrs.Pankaja as a representative of NCTE visited the Faculty of Education on April 17. Prof.A. Gnanam, Chairman of NAAC chaired the meetings which were facilitated by the Deputy Adviser Dr.Antony Stella and Dr. M.S. Shyamasundar, Asst.Adviser of NAAC.
The University has 108.4 acres of land which accommodates 27 academic departments. There are 95 programmes offered through these departments ranging from certificate to Ph.D level courses. There are 216 teachers on the roll, of whom 96 have Ph.D. degrees and few others have registered for Ph.D. There are 16 Professors and 55 Readers and the rest are Lecturers/Guest Faculty. There are 111 non-teaching staff including 27 technical staff. There are 3890 students altogether studying in the six faculties viz. Home Science, Humanities, Education, Management, Science and Engineering including those enrolled for certificates and diplomas. 2% of the undergraduates and 20% of the post-graduates are from other States.
The peer team carefully studied the self-study report submitted by the Deemed University. During the institutional visit of three days, the team went through the documents, visited the various departments, supporting units and the facilities - academic, co-curricular, sports and extension - of the University. The team also visited the hostel, canteen, library, press, auditorium and other support services. Also they had occasion to look into the various documents including annual reports, audit statements, budget details etc., The peer team interacted with members of the Syndicate, the Chancellor, the Vice-Chancellor, the Registrar, the Controller of Examination, the Finance Officer, students, teachers, alumnae and parents. Based on the visit and interactions, the peer team has given below its objective assessment of the University.
Section 2 : Criterion-wise Analysis
Criterion I : Curricular Aspects
The University has made efforts to introduce a value based and community oriented curriculum to meet the needs of the society. The highlights of the programmes offered are
1.† Semester & Credit system
2.† Double majors with a number of curricular options
3.† Computer skills to all students
4.† Vocational courses in selected subjects
5.† N.S.S / C.S.S as part of the curriculum
6.† The gender issues as a subject at the post-graduate level
7.† Modification of curriculum
The number of courses offered by departments has increased over the years and they are diversified. The Home Science Faculty offer a larger number of courses than the others.
The courses offered in the faculty of Home Science include Family Resource Management, Food Service Management & Dietetics, Food Science and Nutrition, Human Development, Textiles & Clothing, Family & Community Science, Home Science Extension and Tourism & Hospitality. The faculty of Science offers Mathematics, Physics, Applied Chemistry, Bio-Chemistry, Life Science and Computer Applications. The Education Faculty offers General & Integrated Education and Physical Education. The Faculty of Management offers Business Management & Commerce programmes. The Humanities include Languages, Economics, Psychology, Music and Development of Languages & Literature, Tamil, English, Hindi, Journalism and Performing Arts.
Community outreach programmes are an integral part of the programmes of different faculties. The University has given them high priority. In addition the Home Science Extension department functions independently. These contribute to raising the level of awareness among the communities to which the institution relates. Career orientation varies from programme to programme. Student progression, through under-graduate studies, to post-graduation is governed by the norms of the university. However, different departments vary in their ability to attract students.
New programmes of study have been introduced in different combinations. Some of the vocational courses of the UGC have also been introduced. Priorities in curriculum design are determined by needs of society, career development and other academic & social aspirations of the student population. The interaction from the alumnae has given the team† positive feedback about the role models of teachers and their commitment. Their competence as well as commitment ensures development of programmes in the near future.
The modular curricula introduced in the Community College, a recent concept, is the outcome of commendable initiative. It needs detailed study in terms of programme clarity, relevance, target groups, access and equity.
Criterion II : Teaching-learning and Evaluation
Avinashilingam Institute for Home Science and Higher Education for Women has adopted a good teaching-learning and evaluation system. Evaluation is continuous with teaching and involves several mechanisms such as seminars, projects, field and laboratory work along with the traditional examination system. The answer scripts are valued by the teachers, who teach the subjects. This helpful arrangement, which is prevalent in most progressive universities of the world, works well here. Neither teachers nor students had any complaints against the system. As is well known the complementation of continuous evaluation requires a high level of commitment and responsibility on the part of both teachers and students. It also requires mutual trust between them. The success of the institution in implementing internal assessment effectively is proof of the presence of these.
Efforts have been made to recruit and arrange adequate faculty to manage several programmes in all the departments. Wherever necessary, and depending on the situation, part time teachers are also appointed to support academic programmes. The peer team appreciates the efforts made to involve experts from other institutions, including those in† the corporate sector to strengthen the academic programmes. This should be encouraged.
The teaching faculty are given several opportunities for their professional growth. They are encouraged to participate in conferences/workshops/refresher courses and other programmes, offered by other universities and national institutions. Members of different faculties are deputed for higher studies abroad and 11 teachers have benefited from this facility. Fifteen faculty members have attended international conferences in other countries and 18 others have had the opportunity of participating in short term training programmes in other countries related to their area of interest. Among the 216 faculty members, 96 have acquired additional qualifications and 37 are pursuing their Ph.D. programmes. Being a Deemed University it would be good if all the members of faculties obtained research degrees.
The peer team is of the opinion that some of the departments which have been established from the beginning need to be supported and further strengthened in terms of career advancement opportunities and also better equipment facilities. Though a few of the teachers have gone abroad for short periods of training (about three months) and attended many academic activities within the country, the quality of professional standards in many departments falls short of expected levels. Among the various departments, the Home Science Departments seem professionally more up-to-date than others. Both the MCA and MBA departments also seem to be off to a good start.
Criterion III : Research, Consultancy and Extension
The strength of Avinashilingam Institute for Home Science and Higher Education for Women is community oriented outreach programmes. Extension education is offered by every department, including the science departments like Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. All the departments take part in NSS/CSS activities. The contribution of the Science departments to extension/outreach work seems to be at a simplistic level of making communities/school level students† merely aware of basic science information and environmental hazards.
Departments like Physics and† Chemistry do not have adequate infrastructure or equipment to do advanced research. The Department of Nutrition seems to be the most well equipped. Both the departments of Nutrition and Human Development have the tools for research and are doing extension work at their best.
It may be noted that the Department of Mathematics does not have a Computer. Since the University has more than 200 computers, allotment of computers to this department may enhance their programmes especially in Applied Mathematics. The department of Fine Arts which offers music and performing arts programmes needs strengthening, as this university is well known for its value based education.
Criterion IV : Infrastructure and Learning Resources
Library, computer and reprographic facilities are good. The Health Centre and the facilities for sports, physical education etc. are reasonably good.
The hostel accommodation and facilities appear to be inadequate. Parents admit their wards into this institution mainly because of their†confidence that Avinashilingam Institute for Home Science and Higher Education for Women provides safe environment for womenís education among other reasons. With inadequate hostel facilities, either they have to find alternative accommodation or to change their subject options. Even the available residential accommodation is over crowded, without the normal facilities such as recreational rooms with indoor games or TV or even the telephone facilities. In an institution of this standing, high priority should be given to hostels as the most important student support service.
Criterion V : Student support and progression
This institution has been attracting students not only from different regions of the state but also from different states in the country. Eighty eight students from other states and six non-resident Indian students pursue their studies in the institution. This has helped in enhancing the reputation of the institution and also in achieving better integration of the student community. This inter-regional mix of students has provided an opportunity for all the students to learn from each other. The college provides the updated prospectus indicating details of courses offered, scholarships etc. In addition to that, students are also given orientation to the rules and regulations of the institution to familiarise them with the institutional programmes.
Nearly 97 percent of the students appear for the final examination and the dropout rate for the entire institution is estimated to be 14 per cent. This is rather high in some departments like Bio-Chemistry and Food Science & Nutrition. This is attributed a large number of students joining professional courses after admission to these courses. The drop out rate is not evident in two departments, Computer Science and Management, because of the greater demand for these programmes.
It is observed that nearly 20 per cent of the graduates get employed and the percentage improves after students complete their post graduate and research programmes. However, this varies depending on the area of specialisation. Nearly 25 to 30 percent continue in the postgraduate programmes and considerable scope exists for enhancing the facilities for the M.Phll. and Ph.D. programmes.
Students are encouraged to give their feedback at the end of each year on curriculum, teaching and† evaluation procedures. This has been systematically analysed and necessary inputs are obtained for better functioning. Wherever it is possible, within the framework of the institutional rules and regulations, suggestions have been accepted and implemented.
Student counselling is offered by involving all the faculty members. A batch of 20 students is assigned to each teacher. In addition, the staff of the Psychology department also offers formal counselling to students.
It may be noted that the institutional efforts to promote various curricular and extra-curricular programmes has enabled competitors to get more than 200 prizes at the state and national levels meets.
This institution offers a number of scholarships and other financial assistance to nearly 495 students. There is no separate employment cell in the university but at present, teachers and heads of departments take the initiative to help students. It would be of much benefit to the student community, if a cell is established by involving the faculty members. This arrangement would enable the faculty to establish linkages with the industry and other institutions as one of the key support services.
The peer team observed that faculty members have helped students to appear for various competitive examinations including those for fellowships. It also noticed that it is only sporadic and limited to some departments. This effort needs to be stepped up.
This institution has maintained close link with its Alumnae Association to get feedback and support from them periodically. Nearly 29,500 students have passed out of this institution and it will be useful if this Association is further encouraged and strengthened by involving members in several programmes. The peer team observed from interaction that many of them are enthusiastic and keen on continuing their identity and relationship with the institution.
Criterion VI : Organisation and Management
The institution has been nurtured and developed under the able and dynamic leadership of Dr. Rajammal P. Devadas. As Chancellor of the University, she continues to provide her guidance, support and encouragement. The University is governed by the statutes and accordingly various statutory bodies have been constituted. Several committees have been set up for better functioning of the institution.† Teachers and students are represented on various bodies to facilitate the decision making process.† Suitable representation is made from various sections and different levels to facilitate deliberation of issues and also to seek their views.
There has been no violation of the code of conduct and ethics by the teaching and administrative staff. The performance of the staff is assessed by the authorities regularly and the staff are given encouragement by extending all the benefits. Budgeting and Auditing procedures are properly followed as it is managed by the Finance Committee with the help of the Finance officer drawn from the Government.
The non-teaching staff are given encouragement and they are motivated to improve their skill and performance. Thirteen non-teaching staff have completed their post graduate programme. It would be highly relevant and appropriate if non-teaching staff are encouraged to acquire computer training.
Some progress is made in the application of modern communication technology but that is not adequate; considerable scope exists for improvement and the efforts should be directed towards improving them. Resources have been mobilised by the institution through donations and other fund raising drives such as using the Alumnae Association, consultancy and self-financing courses.
Criterion VII: Healthy Practices
This institution has made considerable progress from its inception to impart skills and morale to the students in order to prepare them to meet the challenges of life in the family and society. Imparting of spiritual values, inculcating discipline and value orientation are the important components incorporated in the education system. Several National days are celebrated as a way of promoting patriotism.
The semester pattern offers each student the individual attention of teachers and it has facilitated the all round development of students. Introduction of internal assessment, continuous assessment, credit based curriculum and grade system has been possible only because of the semester system. The institution has also adopted other practices like compulsory project work, dissertation and internship with other institutions and that has helped in enhancing the quality of the programmes. The University has also established linkages with industry and other institutions but they need further strengthening. A beginning has been made. Vocational programmes have given an opportunity for the students to acquire skills. By introducing the computer course as an ancillary subject, this University has made considerable progress in helping the students to become computer literate and that is laudable. Exchange programmes have given an opportunity for students and faculty to learn many things that are not otherwise possible. Inter disciplinary programmes in some departments have helped students to gain a broader perspective. Involvement of students and staff in many community outreach programmes is highly appreciated. Publishing a monthly magazine and journal has helped the faculty to participate better in disseminating information. Field research has helped the students not only to understand the society better but also provide the much desired practical training.
The institution has been regularly arranging special lectures by inviting eminent people and this has helped students to learn better by widening their perspectives. Some of the students are highly appreciative of the five year integrated course in Economics and such specialisation should be explored in other areas too. The institution has mobilised resources from the Indian Bank to establish a Chair in the Department of Economics. Students are encouraged to learn and practise Yoga and meditation.
The commitment, dedication and sense of belongingness, team work, transparency, discipline and being humane are the commendable qualities that are sought to be imparted in the institution.
Section 3: Overall analysis
The Peer Team would like to appreciate the university for its commendable practices:
∑ The institution is striving hard through its curricular, co-curricular and extension programmes to mould the girls to be responsible citizens of tomorrow.
∑ Community needs and social growth are of paramount importance in the hierarchy of institutional goals and objectives.
∑ The institution strives to achieve goals and objectives, which is reflected through the self-study report, interaction with the faculty, students, alumnae and the administrative staff.
∑ The institution lays greater stress on values and spiritual needs along with the physical and intellectual growth of students.
∑ A great deal of effort has gone into the development of more curricular options, making it diverse and flexible enough to increase employability.
∑ The interaction from the alumnae has given the team† positive feedback about the role models of teachers, their commitment and competence ensures development of programmes in the near future.
∑ Evaluation is continuous with teaching, where the answer scripts are valued by the teachers, who teach the subjects and involves several mechanisms such as seminars, projects, field and laboratory work along with the traditional examination system.
∑ The teaching faculty are given several opportunities for their professional growth by encouraging them to participate in conferences/ workshops/ refresher courses and other programmes, offered by national and international institutions.
The University may wish to consider the following suggestions of the Peer Team for the future growth and development of the institution:
∑ The relevance, accessibility and equity need to be considered with reference to the changing socio-economic and technological scenario.
∑ Gender issues and women & Development courses need to be introduced as foundation courses rather than for the few at the post-graduate level, so that these issues are understood by a large number of students at the under-graduate level.
∑ As a university, the outreach programmes offered by the various departments need to be consolidated under the adult and continuing education, so that the vertical growth of the departments gets focus in academic specialization and research.
∑ A perspective plan for the university needs to be worked out with a development perspective for the two campuses. A professor could be designated to look after the development needs of the university as a whole.
∑ All members of the faculty need to be encouraged to participate in national and international programmes.
∑ Recruitment of faculty from other states will prove to be beneficial in achieving greater interaction among academics, ensuring adequacy and competence in teaching.
∑ Inter institutional, international, collaborative and interdisciplinary research would augment the scope of research under taken in different disciplines.
∑ The modular curricula introduced in the Community College needs detailed study in terms of programme clarity, relevance, target groups, access and equity.
∑ The available potential for Research and cunsultency should be exploited to the maximum.
∑ The industry Ė institution interaction will foster excellence in Research and cunsultency expertise.
∑ Research findings could be translated into meaningful messages for the community to its advantage.
∑ Support services like hostel need to be strengthened for further improving the ambience for learning.
∑ Career counseling and Information centre could be strengthened, which enables compatibility of studentís interest and aptitude towards career development.